Russian steelmaker Magnitogorsk Iron and Steel Works (MMK) is continuing to implement its Industry 4.0 strategic initiative. Digitalisation is a key element of the company's development strategy up to 2025 and is covering an increasing number of MMK's business processes with a view to increasing productivity and product quality.

According to MMK, digitalisation ensures employee safety, increases efficiency, eliminates routine tasks, and helps meet customer expectations while keeping up with the demands of the modern world.

In the era of rapid development of digital technologies, the competitiveness of any business is determined by its ability to use modern IT systems to improve functional and operational efficiency, claims MMK.

The steelmaker's digitalisation strategy, therefore, is based on more than 100 digital transformation projects that, it is claimed, have benefited almost two dozen of the company's main functions.

Priority areas include maintaining an integrated corporate information system, providing mobile access to key business applications, using artificial intelligence (AI) for modelling and forecasting both technological and business processes, end-to-end production planning and operational management of order fulfilment, as well as protecting the health and safety of employees in the performance of their duties.

By 2025, the implementation of Industry 4.0 projects is expected to save MMK up to US$160 million.

MMK claims that digital transformation affects production at all levels ranging from sinter production – where mathematical models help to analyse the quality of purchased coal and optimise the process of iron smelting – to the company’s customer communications, where specially-designed web applications allow MMK clients to track the progress of their order online.

MMK claims that its successful implementation of IT projects is made possible by the digital maturity of the company, which has long been distinguished by its high level of industrial automation and extensive use of digital systems.

"Using digital technologies in all fields of work will be the main driving force for the development of MMK in the immediate future. People are the key factor of implementing any strategy. Our specialists have transferred all of their profound practical experience into the digital dimension, which, along with the ability to use digital technologies during everyday production activities, allows us to improve rationality and quality in decision-making at all management levels, as well as to improve the efficiency of all business processes. Thanks to digitalisation, we will be able to hand over a significant part of the more monotonous, non-creative activities to robots, leaving employees with more time to work on more complex and interesting tasks and to learn about new technologies and develop their professional skills," said Pavel Shilyaev, CEO of MMK.